"Iím going in for the kill, Iím doing it for a thrill..."
And so on
To describe Bayonetta as a video game may seem like stating the obvious, but itís also the most apt way to talk about it. Thereís nothing po-faced about Bayonetta, everything is a million miles an hour, tongue in cheek, permanently winking and nodding to the camera. From combat to cut scenes, absolutely everything is ridiculous, and mostly thatís for the best.
Unsurprisingly given its origins Bayonetta follows the Devil May Cry template, with obscene combos relying on timing rather than button memorisation. At certain points youíll have to defeat all the present enemies before you can move on, and of course face off against some gargantuan bosses. The real skill comes from how you use the abilities on offer. Youíll need to master the dodge pretty quickly, partly for the sake of your health, but also to activate Witch Time. Initially Witch Time screams gimmick, but youíll soon realise its worth, especially as itís the only way to beat some enemies.
The game looks far better than youíd expect too. Thereís an impressive amount of detail on show, with everything running at a rock solid frame rate. Thereís some noticeable screen tearing, but itís a price worth paying. Character designs deserve special mention, even discounting the uber-stylised Bayonetta, each new enemy type is distinct and interesting.
Bayonetta does take a few missteps, and the majority of them come at the end of the game. The traditional Devil May Cry combat increasingly takes a back seat to motorcycle chases, platforming, and an Afterburner nod. The bike level isnít too bad to be fair, nor the platforming, the problem is that neither are as good as the main game, which is what they replace. The problem is rather than free flowing combo heavy battles, you get limiting boss fights. Worse, previously beaten bosses return over and over, sometimes with restrictions on how you can attack.
The Afterburner section goes on far too long, indeed so does the back end of the game, you get false ending after false ending. The real shame of it is that it sucks the pace and frivolity out of the game, as levels become hard work rather than giving you the chance to express yourself.
Unsurprisingly in a game like this the camera can let you down. Itís most noticeable when you fight in a constricted area, especially when youíre facing off against more than one enemy. The way the game doles out health can also grate. Using items damages your score, which affects how much you earn, but earning health from enemies is rare. While obviously the more skilled you become the less this should matter, at least in theory, unfortunately the camera issues, and some of the more ínoveltyí gameplay decisions, mean you canít avoid every attack, and so you will need to replenish your health.
That all being said Bayonetta is an easy game to love, and were it not for the back half of the game taking the gloss off things it would stand out as one of the very best of this generation. Itís hard to think of a game that has so consistently put a smile on my face, and I could understand someone reading this review and scoffing at the issues raised. Rest assured they donít ruin the experience, but they do take some of the shine off what is still a great, and memorable game.